The peak of the season has come and gone and a slow and steady drop in activity is expected through October and November. However, this does not mean that we should let our guard down just yet.
To stress this point, we looked at some tropical history. We have had several storms affect Louisiana in October, some of which were major hurricanes. We took a look at Hurricane Juan, Hurricane Hilda, Hurricane Lili, and the 1893 hurricane.
These storms all formed in the Gulf of Mexico or western Caribbean and this is the favored area of development this time of year.
Hurricane Juan formed back in 1985, moving northward, looping just south of Louisiana, and eventually making landfall across the southeastern U.S.
Hurricane Hilda formed in the western Caribbean, south of Cuba, before making its move northwestward into the Gulf and Louisiana. The 1893 storm took a similar track and both this storm and Hurricane Hilda reached category four intensity.
Hurricane Lili was back in 2002 and hit Acadiana hard. Lili was different, as it originated further eastward, across the eastern Caribbean. It did, however, affect Louisiana in early October.
Many other storms, such as Hurricane Wilma and Hurricane Opal, affected the Gulf in the month of October.
The latest storm out of these four is Hurricane Juan, which didn’t affect the area until the end of October.
The take away is that we may have to start watching closer to home for tropical development heading through the next 2-4 weeks. Long-range models are hinting that the area of the western Caribbean could become more favorable for tropical development through the next few weeks. A monsoonal trough will develop across central America, which is a belt of converging winds that lowers surface pressure. Since a tropical system is indeed a low pressure system, this trough can sometimes serve as a breeding ground for tropical cyclones. For this reason, if there were any area I would highlight to watch through October, it would be this one, which encompasses the southern Gulf and western Caribbean.
We have already had 13 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes. This is above the average of 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. An additional 2-5 named storms, 1-3 hurricanes, and 1-2 major hurricanes could be possible before the season wraps up on November 30th.
In summary, although it is starting to get later in the season, the season is far from over. If Acadiana can stay tropical activity free, at least through the 2nd or 3rd week in October, then we can start to feel a bit better about our chances. Until then, continue to follow the forecast for changes and have a plan ready.
~Meteorologist Trevor Sonnier